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On The Danger List

April 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

From Colossus Inklings No.120

To show how much words change their meanings, look at these five words that have similar meanings. Only one had the same meaning originally.

Danger comes from 13th C daunger ‘power’, as in ‘power to inflict injury’. This in turn came from Latin dominium ‘ownership’.

Hazard evolved from the Arabic al zahr, ‘the dice’. Crusaders in the Holy Land learned this word that associated dice games with risk.

Risk is derived from Italian rischiare which in turn came from the Greek rhiza ‘cliff’ because of the risk when sailing along rocky coasts.

Jeopardy originates from the Old French jeu parti meaning ‘divided game’, jeu from Latin jocus ‘joke’ and partir from French ‘to divide’.

Peril is the only word that had the same meaning as far back as we can go. It comes from the Latin periculum, which actually meant ‘danger’.

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